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Telemark skiing (also known as free heel skiing) is a form of skiing using the Telemark turn. Unlike cross-country skiing, or may be released to only connect there.
Telemark turns are led with the heel flat on the outside ski (the downhill ski at the end of the turn), while the inside (uphill) ski is pulled beneath the skier’s body with a flexed knee and raised heel. The skis are staggered but not quite parallel, and 50% to 60% of the body weight is distributed on the outside ski, depending on snow conditions.
The Telemark turn came to the attention of the skiing downhill. The Telemark turn became the technique of ski touring in rolling terrain.
The technique is named after the Oslo), Norway. As well as inventing the Telemark turn, Sondre Norheim and his fellow skiers used and refined parallel skiing techniques. Thus, while the Telemark is part of early skiing’s foundation, parallel techniques are of equal importance.
 The Telemark revival
The revival in the Telemark technique, after its decline from popularity in the mid-1940s, started in alpine skiing, and the increasing reliance on crowded groomed pistes served by ever larger and faster mechanical ski lifts. The use of traditional clothing is associated with the Telemark skiing revival.
The Telemark revival started almost simultaneously in NET (New England Telemark) sponsor telemark festivals and Instruction as the sport continues to grow, it is still considered a minority sport.
While most modern telemark skis are virtually identical to today’s alpine skis, they differ in one critical way; the heel of the skier’s boot is detached from the ski. This detachment allows the skier to kneel as he turns, thus creating a deep smooth turn. Developments in shape and manufacture have seen skis get shorter and wider, taking design cues from both alpine skiing and snowboarding. The unique mechanics of the telemark turn could distinguish telemark equipment from alpine equipment, but advances in boot and binding technology have helped reduce the need to have the ski itself meet any such demands. Few manufacturers still have lines of telemark-specific skis, which are, in general, lighter and softer than comparable alpine skis. Telemark-specific skis may also entail a different shape. Most manufacturers just build skis classified as freeskiing which are equally adequate for Alpine_touring or telemark skiing.
Leather boots are still used by some, but durable polymer (“Pebax”) is now the usual choice. Polymer boots feature a trapezoidal “duckbill” at the front, which interfaces boots with the binding. While most telemark skiers use cables to attach boots to bindings, the duckbill has three reinforced holes in the bottom to attach three-pin bindings. NTN boots are also becoming more popular, which instead of the duckbill, attach to the binding by a hook in the front and ball of the boot.
Bindings hold the Telemark boot to the ski by the toe only. The oldest version of manufactured bindings, ‘three-pin bindings, had three pins pointing up from the ski to which boots attached with matching holes. The duckbill was placed on top of the pins and held down with a locking mechanism (the “bail”). This duckbill boot-binding interface is referred to as the 75mm Nordic Norm.
From the 1980s onwards, telemark equipment has become progressively heavier and more durable as manufacturers seek to answer the demand for telemark equipment offering greater downhill performance and durability.
During the 1980s cable bindings that have a spring-loaded cable to hold the boot in the binding became popular. These have a socket that the duckbill fits into, but usually no pins. The spring-loaded cable is stretched onto the boot heel by a throw. Cable bindings are stronger than three-pin bindings and offer more control in turns, but they are heavier and produce more resistance to flexing the boot, therefore are not as suitable for ski touring.
To address ski touring issues, since 2005, cable binding manufacturers have introduced touring-mode bindings. These switch between a “free pivot” mode (borrowed from randonnee binding design) for touring and a downhill mode with more cable tension applied to the boot.
Also available are hinged plate bindings, combining the lateral stiffness of a traditional alpine binding with the flexibility of a traditional Telemark binding. Despite performance benefits, these bindings have failed to gain a significant following during the late 1990s and early 2000s, and most manufacturers have withdrawn models from production. Examples include the Voile VPII, Bomber Bishop (both USA) and Linken (Norway).
Since the 1990s Telemark news media have referred to the concept of a telemark binding “holy grail”. This is a vision of a telemark binding design that offers the ability to perform telemark turns combined with touring-mode, step-in entry and safety-release features.
An international consortium of Fritschi and Black Diamond produced the first binding to address this ambition with the hinged plate “Skyhoy” binding. Production ceased when equipment from the first production run displayed faults that were uneconomic to rectify.
The 7tm binding, manufactured by German company Rezotec GmbH, is a commercially successful design that offers “holy grail” features.
In late 2007 Rottefella introduced the New Telemark Norm (NTN) binding, a departure from the 75mm Nordic Norm, which uses a different boot sole, co-developed with the Crispi and Scarpa boot companies. Current NTN systems are at the heavier end of the boot/binding spectrum, primarily aimed at maximizing downhill control and creating a smoother transition on turns. However, the touring-mode feature is considered by many users to off-set the additional weight penalty.
22 designs has recently come to the forefront of the telemark ski binding industry with their introduction of their wildly popular “hammerhead” bindings. The hammerheads are a traditional rigid plate binding that offer variable stiffness of the plate under the toe for adjusting the ease of turning vs. power of the binding. Since the release of the hammerhead binding, they have also come out with the “axl” binding, which offers a touring mode. Both bindings have been widely acclaimed for their power and control while maintaining adjustability.
For those taking to the wilderness, climbing “skins” are the only practical alternative. Wax can offer enough grip to climb fairly steep grades but take away all glide for the descent. Skins in recent times, (synthetic or mohair rather than the traditional sealskin) are attached to the bottom of the ski with an adhesive that sticks to the base of the ski but when peeled off the adhesive remains on the skin for subsequent use. The fibers on the fabric are all oriented in one direction. This allows the “hairs”or fibers to collapse and offer little resistance as the ski is slid forward but stand up and grip the snow as the ski is pulled back. This allows the skier to climb very steep slopes with little back slip. Warmer conditions and softer snow reduce the efficiency of the skins. Special wax is available to reduce the bonding of snow to the fibers. It is rubbed directly on to the skins as needed.
Once removed from the skis the skins are folded so the glued sides are put together. This is to prevent any contamination. The glue is extremely tacky and will pick up any dust, dirt, pine needles or other debris.
The adhesive also allows the base to be treated with a glide wax that maximises the downhill performance of the ski.
“Harscheisen” (ski crampons — also called “couteau” or “cortelli”) mounted below the boot are sometimes used to assist when skinning on hard, icy surfaces where skins do not perform as well. Skins perform most effectively on newer snows with intact crystalline structures. On ice or wet corn snow the skins do not perform as well.
The edges used in a Telemark turn are the same as with a alpine skiing. Often having the majority of the weight on the inside trailing ski can help compensate for poor technique, as it allows the skier to use the outside ski as a ‘buffer’ to control the snow, and to help keeping the outside ski tip above the snow.
There is no agreement on the respective angle between the skis during a FIS Telemark competitions. This element of technique is up to the skier, although a very low stance is to be avoided where hard uneven snow might cause the lowered knee to collide with the ground or ski. Some Telemark skiers, therefore, use kneepads to reduce the risk of injury.
Accomplished Telemark skiers, like accomplished alpine skiers, keep their torsos vertical and oriented downhill while linking turns, thus avoiding turning too far. This position also allows greater control over the fine-tuning of weight distribution. When skiing in thick powder it is important that the skier not lean back; staying forward and facing downhill allows quicker response to changing conditions. The lack of a fixed heel means that it is easy to go head-first into the snow when hitting a hard patch, but if centered on the skis and facing downhill, the skier is less likely to fall. With or without poles, the skier’s hands should be in front of the body.
Some Telemark skiers continue to ski with a single long lurk held in both hands in traditional style. The lurk should only contact the snow on the inside of the turn, though some find better balance results if the lurk contacts the snow on the outside of the turn.
 Competition Events
As a competition event, the sport is governed by the International Ski Federation Telemark Committee. The Telemark disciplines are:
- Telemark giant slalom
- Similar to giant slalom, but including a jump marked for style and distance.
- Telemark Classic
- Classic involves a super-g section, a giant slalom section, a jump (with time penalties of up to 7 seconds for short jumps as well as error in the landing), a 360° turn (Reipeløkke), and an uphill sprint.
- Telemark Sprint Classic
- The same as Giant Slalom but with a 360° turn and a short cross-country part where the racers sprint for about 200 m using the free style or skate cross-country skiing technique.
- Mountain Telemark
- Telemark competitions in unprepared snow. Gates and reipelykkje (360°). Telemark equipment. Backpack (5 kg senior, 3 kg junior), helmet. Free style. Most famous is the Norwegian Tinderittet, host of the first Norwegian championship ever in 2005, Galdhøpiggrennet, both in Jotunheimen, and Stranda (Norwegian championship in the year 2006), Norway.
- U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Telemark Championships
- Similar to the like-named Colorado.
- Sun Valley Tele Series
- The Sun Valley Tele Series is the longest running telemark series in the USA. It host numerous events throughout each ski season.
- Slopestyle/Half Pipe/Big Air
- With the popularity of Telemark skiing in younger crowds, contests and events are popping up around the world for “Newschool” telemarkers. Including the Vail Mountain will be hosting the first ever “Winter Teva Games”, which will include a “Big Air” event for telemark skiing.
- Wasatch Powderkeg
- A 2012 they created mens and womens divisions for racers, heavy metal (participants not using ultra-light race gear), and recreational participants.
 Telemark festivals
Telemark festivals are traditionally a gathering of telemark skiers at popular ski areas. The idea for a telemark festival was originally started by NATO (North American Telemark Organization) at Mad River Glen in Vermont and organizations such as NET (New England Telemark) and others now run festivals all around the U.S. and Canada. Québec has several festivals throughout the winter, at both small and large ski areas. These include the téléfestival at Bear Valley Telemark Festival typically scheduled the weekend before Presidents Weekends in February.
 See also
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Telemark skiing|
- FIS Telemark
- Homepage of the British Telemark team
- Home of the United States World Cup Telemark Team and US Telemark Educational Events
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article telemark skiing, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.